Ange Postecoglou is close to being appointed as the next Celtic manager. The Yokohama F Marinos boss is said to be in advanced talks with the Celtic hierarchy and has almost certainly been touted by The City Football Group as a managerial candidate after the Eddie Howe deal collapsed yesterday.
Celtic and City have shared a few connections throughout their history but the influx of money in 2008 took the sky blue side of Manchester to another level financially. Celtic benefitted from this as Georgious Samaras signed for the club following a loan spell at the club. Fergal Harkin, City’s Football Partnerships and Pathways Manager, is said to be the frontrunner to become Celtic’s new Director of Football. The close relationship with City appears to have reared its head again and now Postecoglou has emerged as a candidate for the vacant manager’s position.
City were also involved in Ronny Deila’s arrival at Celtic in the summer of 2014. The relatively unknown Norwegian was a title winner in his homeland and he arrived to much surprise in Glasgow. However, he had been identified as a top coach with a reputation for cultivating young talent. Ronny won three trophies in two years, helping develop players and setting the groundwork for Brendan Rodgers to arrive in 2016. He is now working for The City Football Group as manager of New York City.
Since the new ownership, Celtic have signed four high-profile loanees from City and had a further two players sign from City on a permanent basis.
Celtic signed the Belgian defender to partner Virgil Van Dijk in Ronny Deila’s first season at Celtic Park. The young defender scored in his debut at Celtic Park, a 6-1 win over Dundee United and despite shaky displays at the back, his partnership with Van Dijk would blossom into an effective and commanding one. Denayer made 44 appearances for Celtic in his time, scoring four goals. Denayer won young player of the year as Celtic completed a double with Denayer playing a starring role. Denayer is now the captain of Lyon after joining from Man City.
The Swede arrived at Celtic on the final day of the transfer window, like Denayer, in Ronny Deila’s first season. Guidetti arrived amongst a degree of apathy around the club following an average start to the season and being knocked out of the Champions League. Guidetti stepped up and scored a number of goals at the start, endearing him to the support. However, by December, Guidetti’s form in front of goal was patchy and Leigh Griffiths took over as Deila’s preferred choice. Guidetti scored a late equaliser in a 3-3 game at home to Inter Milan but his actions in the League Cup final left a sour taste – after he sulked when Forrest took a penalty (and missed) that he wanted. He left Celtic and now plays for Deportivo Alavés.
Roberts was the most successful player to make the switch from Manchester to Glasgow. The youngster had joined the English side for £12m six months prior to his switch and was seen as a majorly exciting transfer, especially considering it was 18 months. It took Roberts a few months to get going and whilst in an ailing Ronny Deila’s side, showed his class with braces against Hearts and Aberdeen as Celtic won the league. The 2016/17 season and arrival of Brendan Rodgers would be a major turning point for Roberts at Celtic as supporters quickly realised how talented Roberts was and how much playing for the club meant to him – following his decision to reject the chance to represent England at U19 level. 43 appearances and 15 goals that season as Celtic completed an Invincible Treble had the supporters clamouring for the permanent signing of Roberts.
He rejoined on loan in 2017/18 but injuries and the form of James Forrest limited his involvement. Roberts scored 18 goals in 79 appearances in Scotland and was very impressive under Brendan Rodgers in that Invincible season. He recently helped Derby avoid relegation to League 1.
After being one of the standout young players at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Celtic were linked with signing the youngster. However, it became clear that he would be joining Manchester City and soon after Celtic were being touted as his next port of call. Arzani arrived amid an apparent spat between Brendan Rodgers and the board; however a poor start to the season delayed his debut until Halloween at Dens Park. Arzani came on with Celtic 5-0, had a chance to score, created a chance and then slipped unchallenged. It would be a season ending injury for Arzani, which ruled him out for over 12 months. The player went to Utrecht and AGF having failed to live up to his potential.
Following Denayer’s departure at the end of the 2014/15 season. Celtic had a vacancy in the central defence role. Virgil Van Dijk looked set to depart amidst interest from Premier League clubs so Celtic were offered Boyata for £1.5m when a deal for Denayer failed to transpire. Boyata’s debut season was mixed, he possessed qualities that suggested he would be a top player but fans weren’t convinced due to poor performances, including the Scottish Cup semi-final. Boyata made a rare appearance in a win over Kilmarnock in November 2016. It wasn’t until January 2017 that he rejuvenated his career at Celtic following a Scottish Cup win over Albion Rovers, proving he had a future at Celtic. The Invincible season concluded with Boyata being a stalwart at the heart of the defence. He would continue his form the following season, with an occasional lapse in concentration, as Celtic completed the Double Treble. With a year remaining on his contract and his fine form at the 2018 World Cup, Boyata was expected to make a move to the Premier League with Fulham interested. Despite an offer coming in, Celtic rejected the offer and Brendan Rodgers said that Boyata was fit – suggesting he had refused to play. This resulted in criticism from supporters and whilst he returned to action, some never forgave him for AEK. When Brendan Rodgers left under a cloud, sentiment towards Boyata become warmer as Rodgers’ apparent broken promises came to light. Boyata is now playing with Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga.
The day after Neil Lennon’s side beat Rangers at Ibrox, Celtic announced the signing of a Dutch youngster from Manchester City’s U21s. It was a signing that captured little imagination due to very little being known about Frimpong. However, after a debut in a 5-0 win over Partick Thistle, supporters took notice of what an incredible talent Celtic had on their hands. Frimpong used Hatem Abd Elhamed’s injury to impose himself as Celtic’s first choice right-back. Breathtaking attacking performances, solid defensive displays and a humble demeanour endeared him to the Celtic support. Frimpong was sent off in the League Cup final but gave a good account of himself and earned a winners medal. Frimpong was sold to Bayer Leverkusen for £12m this January, completing a quick turnaround and profit for the youngster.
Postecoglou was not the front runner with the very public pursuit of Eddie Howe clearly highlighting who Celtic wanted as their new boss. However, the Greek/Australian will require the backing of the support as the club look to wrestle back control in Scotland after a shockingly poor campaign last year left the club trophy less.